We love hidden restaurant gems that take a little work to find. This one takes a whole lot of work to find, but it’s well worth the screaming match with your GPS. The well-tucked away Barley and Bine is the newest addition to Windsor’s Artisan Alley — a collection of artisan wine, spirit and cider producers that are a boozy interjection among commercial tile makers, auto body shops and the Windsor Gymnastics Center.
Almost invisible behind beefy pickup trucks and stacked harvest bins, Barley and Bine’s entrance is a completely unimpressive door surrounded by concrete bricks and aluminum siding. Don’t be put off, because inside you’ll find a charming spot to grab a table or a seat at the bar and peruse the 32 beers, cider and kombucha on tap. I can pretty much guarantee there will be at least three bearded guys sitting at the tap room at any given moment doing the same thing you are.
As reticent beer drinkers, we obviously reach first for the food menu. Which is a solid idea, because you’ll need a Tot-Tine as a solid base for the forthcoming suds. Yes, Tot-tine—the lovechild of Ore-Idea Tater Tots and Canadian poutine (brown gravy, cheese curds, and fries), this hot mess of deliciousness isn’t exactly a looker, but bacon, melty mozzarella, green onions with gravy soaked tater tots has loads of personality. I dare you not to fall a little in love with them.
The small kitchen also serves up simple flatbread pizzas, like the Hawaiian-inspired Hula and a tasty prosciutto and fig version. There’s simpler fare for kids — and yes, kids are welcome here with a little corner filled with toys and a chalkboard to keep them occupied while you kick back a couple brews.
Several computer screens above the bar show the dizzying selections, but if you’re overwhelmed, just ask the bartender for a little guidance. As a reticent beer drinker, we were thrilled to try 5oz. pours of Russian River’s Supplication (a sour brown ale aged in pinot noir barrels with sour cherries) and a raspberry lambic beer. I almost liked a couple of IPAs, but ti’s still a taste I’m acquiring.
Take a minute to check out their neighbors, Tilted Shed Ciderworks, Sonoma Brothers Distilling and Two Shepherds and Colagrossi Wines, most of whose products you can also find in the taproom.
If you get lost, just follow the bearded guys who look thirsty.
Open 11a.m. to 10pm. Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. 11a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday. Closed Tuesdays. 7765 Bell Road, Windsor, 707-657-7774, barleybinebeercafe.com.